North Jersey Rejects Casino Expansion ReferendumNovember 10, 2016 12:24 pm
On November 8th, the same day as US citizens took to the polls to elect their next president, voters in New Jersey also held an important referendum on whether to expand casino gambling in the state beyond the city of Atlantic City. In the end, however, eight out of every ten voters opted to reject the proposal, laying the controversial issue to bed for at least another two years.
In total, the two campaigning sides spent $24 million on promoting their opposing views on whether to allow two more casinos to be built more than 72 miles outside of Atlantic City. On the one hand, Gov. Chris Christie and most of New Jersey’s lawmakers supported the idea, while on the other, casino interests and Atlantic City officials were determined to maintain their city’s monopoly of the state’s gambling market.
According to some analysts, three more of Atlantic City’s casinos may have been forced out of business had the referendum succeeded, while a positive vote may also have hampered the revival of Revel, which is expected to reopen as ‘TEN’ in the first quarter of 2017. Following the referendum’s result, Bill Cortese, Director of Trenton’s Bad Bet, one of the main organizers of the keep gambling in Atlantic City campaign, commented:
“We are glad to see the overwhelming support across New Jersey opposing casino expansion. Today’s vote is an important step for Atlantic City’s return to becoming a world-class resort destination. We are gratified by the overwhelming defeat of this initiative.”
Unsurprisingly, 94% of Atlantic City voters rejected a casino expansion to the north of New Jersey. Likewise, all 21 of the state’s counties also voted to shoot down the proposal, including North Jersey, itself.
In the meantime, Atlantic City casinos have been enjoying somewhat of a revival lately, having generated $2 billion in casino revenues for the first nine months of 2016, higher by 1.6% versus the same period of time last year. Furthermore, online gambling revenues are currently $144.5 million, compared to $149 million for the whole of 2015.